Several letters to the editor in the New York Times have good thoughts on the critical topic of reducing hospital-acquired infections. It’s important not just to exhort hospital administrators to try harder, but to set up incentives that reward safety and punish harm. One incentive not discussed in these letters is a national mandatory disclosure system. That would require hospitals to measure and publicly report all their infections. Consumers would then be able to make intelligent decisions about which hospitals to seek care at.
As previously discussed in this blog, Consumers Union has been advocating such a disclosure system for several years and has made headway in various states, but a national system is needed.
Chapter 13 in my new book, The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst, talks about, as the chapter title says: “The Scandal of Infections in Hospitals and Other Health-Care Facilities, and What You Can Do.” Patients and family members can do a lot to enforce hygiene rules and avoid infection.